Thursday, April 10, 2008

Munster Abu - Heineken Cup Quarter-final

Munster eh, how do they keep on doing it? One reason is the palpable espirit de corps in the squad - in contrast to the Irish squad. Also, the experience and intensity of their forward play has now been augmented by a trio of hard and dangerous backs from the southern hemisphere. Add a couple of up and coming local lads and suddenly Munster are looking like a complete team. Spare a thought for poor old Peter Stringer though – cast off by Ireland and now by Munster. The best passer of a ball we’ve had since John O’Meara and he’s discarded for Thomas O’Leary (who was fine) - just as O’Meara was discarded for Andy Mulligan (who was rarely fine) many years ago.

For the first 15 minutes Munster were on the back foot but thanks to resolute tackling Gloucester never looked like getting over the try line and when the usually metronomic Patterson started missing his kicks the Gloucester assault began to wane. Slowly the wheel turned and Munster began to strut their stuff in mid-field. Some inspiration from O’Gara and Howlett led to Dowling strolling over in the corner. Gloucester never threatened thereafter. Bring on the Saracens.

The gigantic Vainakolo on the wing for Gloucester with his elaborately coiffed hair looked as if he was going to Mardi Gras rather than playing rugby but an early encounter with Leamy soon put him right on where the party was. Leamy and Quinlan were heroic but I’d expect nothing less from a couple of Tipp boys. For Gloucester Simpson-Daniel was their best player and should clearly be playing for England instead of the other high-stepping peri-wigged galoot.